With Euro 2012 barely days away, various national teams got the chance to get more games under their belt in preparation for the tourney. From an Arsenal perspective, 12 ambassadors represented their nations in a host of international friendlies with Robin van Persie stealing the show as the star attraction.
Great entertainment was the spectacle in the Amsterdam ArenA as the Netherlands demolished Northern Ireland with Robin van Persie being on the spotlight for all the right reasons. The Flying Dutchman opened the scoring with a close-range header from a brilliant executed training move.
Wesley Sneijder doubled the lead with one hell of a free kick and van Persie had a chance to make it three when Shane Ferguson was adjudged to have handled the ball with his hand in the box from a van Persie flick. He took the penalty and sent the keeper the wrong way.
Van Persie turned from scorer to provider as he supplied two assists to Ibrahim Afellay and the rout was completed from a Ron Vlaar header.
The Oranje will certainly be a star attraction in this tourney and they’ll have to strut their stuff against juggernauts like Portugal and Germany in what promises to be a mouthwatering group.
Elsewhere England faced a very strong Belgian side with the likes of Eden Hazard, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen, Axel Witsel, Marouane Fellaini, Vincent Kompany and Moussa Dembele on song. However, it took a Danny Welbeck strike to settle the proceedings.
Feel free to check the performances of other Gunners on international duty.
Thomas Vermaelen has also expressed his delight in Eden Hazard’s decision to come to the Premier League. After weeks of endless flirting with the predators of Europe, Eden Whorezard chose his pimp, Chelsea.
The Verminator spoke of his amazing technique, labelling him as one of the best in the business and he stated that Hazard’s move will also be beneficial to the Belgian national team.
Still sticking with the Belgian affair, Ajax’s Jan Vertonghen has almost completed his move to Tottenham, declining offers from Arsenal and AC Milan. Vertonghen was strongly tipped to make a move to the Emirates but he has revealed that he was happy to meet Twitchy Ol’ ‘Arry and he’s unconcerned that they are not in the Champions League.
He admitted that he wanted to play Champions League football but he chose to be in Tottenham for the long term. He also talked up their training facilities and labelled Sir Twitchy as a ‘good and friendly’ manager.
In my honest opinion, Vertonghen choosing Tottenham over Arsenal and AC Milan is like having a choice between an iPhone and a Blackberry, but going for a Sagem. No pun intended, of course.
From an unbiased perspective, Vertonghen probably reviewed Arsenal’s team and figured that he’ll be behind Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny and probably Per Mertesacker in the pecking order, so a move to Tottenham is a better move for the bloke, as he’ll be odds on to play week in week out.
For those that actually care, here are 1o things you need to know about Jan Ventonghen.
The Arsenal Supporters Trust have sent a series of proposed questions to Arsenal’s Chief Executive, Ivan Gazidis, with Robin van Persie’s saga being the main bone of contention.
The AST is disillusioned with the fact that the club has failed to “invest properly” following the exits of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, which generated an excess of £60m.
They also want assurances from the Arsenal hierarchy that Arsene Wenger will be handed a decent transfer kitty to land the kind of players that would show the club’s ambition, as van Persie stated that would stay if the club proves to him that they are willing to win things in the future.
Another item on the agenda will be Alisher Usmanov and his investment group Red and White holdings. It was reported that the billionaire spent $100m on a boat and $350m on a new private jet recently, but he wants a seat on the Board and he wants to bring significant investment to the team.
AST want to know why silent Stan is blocking this.
In other Arsenal related news, Wojciech Szczesny revealed that he has been working with a psychologist to stay focused on the pitch while Laurent Koscielny speaks about Arsenal’s title chances next season.
That’s yer lot folks.
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Watching Liverpool crumble yet again to a team that has never won on Merseyside showcased how inconsistent Kenny Dalglish’s team has become. Days ago, they dispatched Norwich through the heroics of Luis Suarez and the goal he used to seal his first hat-trick for Liverpool was a jaw dropper.
With two games left to play, the Reds are currently in eighth place and could even sink further down the table. Despite all these shortcomings, Liverpool has a cup final this weekend against Chelsea and they stand a chance of securing the honors the Arsenal Class of ’93 had.
With all the wads of cash spent by Dalglish, Liverpool has been an aberration in the Premier League this season. A team that almost won the Premier League in 2009 has fallen from grace so badly, that it has become a norm not to see them challenging for honors with the elite.
Food for thought: Would you rather win two Cup finals and end up in mid-table or go without a trophy but end up in third place?
On the international scene, the FA has decided to announce a manager before the Euwos. Wily Ol’ Woy Hodgson has been selected as the man to take England forward ahead of Twitchy Ol’ ‘Arry. This bit of news will certainly bring an extra twitch to his face but reports have emerged revealing that it was his wife, Sandra Red Napkin, that stopped him from getting the job.
Now that the fate of the senior team has been decided, eyes are still firmly fixed on Stuart Pearce’s Olympic selection for Team Great Britain. While the likes of Kieran Gibbs and Aaron Ramsey will be odds on to represent the team, Wilshere was the subject of some speculation and power tussle but he has but the mad manager firmly in his place.
The Japan Blue Samurais will also participate in the Olympic games and Arseblog News has reported that their representatives are in talks with Arsenal over the availability of Ryo Miyaichi for the forthcoming Summer competition.
Arsene Wenger would want Miyaichi to get all the football he can get before joining his side next season and I’ll be somewhat surprised if he doesn’t give the nod. Miyaichi has been finding his feet in England and he has been on Owen Coyle’s good books in his short loan spell at Bolton.
His only goal to date was scored in the FA Cup against Millwall and trust me, it’s worth a second look.
Moving over to transfer news, football’s worst kept secret, Lukas Podolski, was exposed a few days ago and a few more “quality” signings are expected in due time. Wenger has stated that he’s looking forward to watching his new kid on the block in the forthcoming Euros while Wilshere had sweet words for him on Twitter.
The article on the club’s website shows how Podolski ticks all the boxes for Arsenal, and a few journos listed his qualities emphasizing on each of them with so much detail that can be as glaring as checking the ape-like qualities Gareth Bale possesses.
It’s worth a read.
While the likes of Stephane Sessegnon and Lucas Bilgia have openly dismissed rumors linking them to Arsenal, Jan Vertonghen is keen on joining the Gunners. The Metro reports that Arsenal are in open transfer talks with Ajax of a move for the defender.
Vertonghen has already told Ajax officials he wants to quit the club this summer, and with just 12 months left on his current deal, manager Frank De Boer is believed to have sanctioned his sale now in order to claim maximum profit.
“Yann has acknowledged that it was an inappropriate response but provoked by the betrayal of the trust he gave to this young man.“As it stands, no decision has been taken yet by the Rennes prosecutor on this case but the file will be forwarded to him within eight to 10 days.”
Arsenal suffered a patchy loss of form in the start of the year, triggering a great depression amongst the Arsenal faithful. Many AMGs (Arsene Must Go) or WOBs (Wenger Out Brigade) came out from their lairs during that period and requested for Arsene Wenger’s head on a plate, literally speaking.
Arsenal’s loss to Fulham at the start of the year was highly unfortunate as Bobby Zamora’s sucker punch was basically the last fruitful attack any team had on that pitch. The embarrassing loss to Swansea was a bitter pill to swallow but the events that occurred on the pitch when Manchester United visited the Emirates can’t be forgotten for years to come.
A manager that has made “50,000” substitutions was questioned about his managerial and tactical ability when he withdrew an 18-year old upcoming star for Russia’s captain.
A major factor certainly contributed to Arsenal’s atrocious form in January and one can look no further than the fact that all recognized full backs were nursing injuries during that period. The lack of natural full backs distorted Arsenal’s balance as width, guile and most importantly, crosses were not offered from the flanks.
This prompted Wenger’s men to attack through the center but the through passes weren’t really coming as Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky weren’t in good form at that point.
Andre Santos was out with ankle problems, Bacary Sagna was recuperating from a fractured leg suffered in October, Kieran Gibbs had groin issues while Carl Jenkinson had back problems.
While Thomas Vermaelen, Johan Djourou, Laurent Koscielny, Ignasi Miquel, Francis Coquelin and Nico Yennaris bit their bit to hold the fort, some Arsenal fans (me included) sent pleas for a new full back to arrive at the Emirates.
While names like Wayne Bridge and an Omani left back were mentioned, the fans drooled in the prospect of the potential arrival of Ajax’s Jan Ventonghen. This is a sought-after player that’s also in the radar of many illustrious European clubs, Arsenal included.
Here are 10 things you need to know about Arsenal’s transfer prospect, Jan Ventonghen:
This is the principal reason why the juggernauts of European football want his signature. Jan Ventonghen is a natural center back but he’s also adept as a left back and a holding midfielder, giving his manager options to cover for the worst injury crisis.
Ventonghen also has a good technique and well as good positioning making him a perfect candidate for any role his manager is willing to deploy him on the pitch.
He’s a Close Friend of Thomas Vermaelen
Jan Venronghen was born on the 24th of April, 1987 in a city called Sint-Niklaas (not the self-proclaimed world’s best striker). Thomas Vermaelen on the other hand, was born on the 14th of November, 1985 in Kapellen, Belgium.
In his breakthrough 2008/09 campaign, he forged a telepathic understanding with his defensive partner Thomas Vermaelen on and off the pitch. Thomas Vermaelen’s exit to Arsenal was a big wrench to leave for Ventonghen but he did well to forge a good understanding with Vermaelen’s replacement, Toby Alderweireld.
It’s worth noting that Alderweireld is of Belgian descent, as Vermaelen before him.
He Has Scored One of the Most Bizarre Goals in Existence
In 2006, there was an incident that occurred in a KNVB Cup game against Cambuur Leeuwarden, which was also his first ever home game at the Amsterdam ArenA.
Ajax was 2-0 up when Ventonghen’s teammate suffered an injury thereby causing the ref to stop play. Ventonghen’s attempted a back pass to the Cambuur goalkeeper while a teammate was receiving treatment but instead the ball sailed past the shocked goalkeeper, much to the amusement of the spectators and the bewilderment of the players.
According to the FIFA Rule Book, a team is suppose to return play back to the side that played the ball out of play but Ventonghen “returned play” by scoring a goal.
Unfortunately, the goal had to stand.
He Worked His Way to the Ajax Captaincy
Ventonghen joined Ajax in 2003 but made his league debut three years later. Like Thomas Vermaelen, he secured a loan switch to RKC Waalwijk to boost his confidence, as well to get much needed match fitness and playing time.
Following the exit of Luis Suarez to Liverpool in the winter of 2011, Ventonghen was appointed as the vice-captain to Maarten Stekelenburg. When Stekelenburg ended his amazing 10-year stint with Ajax to move to AS Roma, the captain’s armband was given to Ventonghen in his eighth year at the club.
Funnily enough, Ventonghen rise to the Ajax captaincy reminds me of a certain man who was a deputy governor to Diepreye Alameyeisegha. Shortly afterwards, he became the governor of that state.
He aimed higher to become the second-in-command to Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua and now, we all know who Nigeria’s No. 1 citizen is.
Who said that goodluck…things don’t come to those who wait?
He’s Fluent in Some European Languages
Despite the fact that football is widely regarded as a universal language, knowing the native tongue of the land you’re plying your trade can help you adapt quickly.
The French Ligue 1 can boast of the largest outlay of African contingent because of the nation’s colonialism of the “Francophone” African countries in the yesteryear.
Many West Africans ply their trade in France because the language makes it seem like “home away from home”.
Jan Ventonghen is of Belgian descent so his fluency in Dutch will certainly be near perfect. However, he’s also adept in some Italian and everyone’s favorite, the English language. This would mean that Ventonghen won’t have any problems with the language barrier if he makes a switch to the Premier League.
However, his expertise in foreign languages is no where near ex-Gunner Phillippe Senderos, who is believed to be fluent in French, English, German, Serbian, Spanish, Italian and some traces of Latin.
He Began His Career in Germinal Beerschot Antwerpen Club
Like his buddie Thomas Vermaelen, Ventonghen began his career in the Belgian Pro-League outfit Germinal Beerschot Antwerpen before he was snapped by Ajax’s scouts.
Beerschot is a club that was formed in 1920 and their main rivals are Royal Antwerp FC, an affiliate of Manchester United. Other prominent footballers that have placed their names in Germinal Beerschot folklore are Ibrahima Sidibe and Colombian icon, Daniel Cruz.
He’s an Injury Prone Player
The injury gods ravage footballers of their own choosing but Jan Ventonghen is one of their honorable customers. He was tipped for great things in the start of the 2007/08 campaign but the presence of Thomas Vermaelen and Johnny Heitenga didn’t really help his cause.
However, Ventonghen suffered an injury that sidelined him for a considerable chunk of that season. He has also twanged his hammy a couple of times and he has suffered setbacks a few years back after aggravating his hamstring again.
In a prestigious venue like Arsenal’s treatment room, he’ll never be lonely if he gets injured. There might be a certain Abou Diaby chilling around.
He Has Some Potent Venom on His Left Foot
Jan Ventonghen has notched up 211 appearances for Ajax so far and he has 26 goals to his name. While some have come from headers as expected from a center back, Ventonghen can release a surface-to-goal missile from his left boot.
Down the years, many left-footed defenders have been renowned for shooting piledrivers from their favorite left boot and the king of the throne was Roberto Carlos.
A defender so good on PlayStation 1 that I used him as a striker most times to devastating effect. Avid game users can attest to Roberto Carlos’ shooting power.
Having a fierce shot as a center back can be a great asset because there’ll be times when he may waltz forward and find some space on the edge of the area. Arsenal’s goal scoring maiden Paul Robinson can tell you what Thomas Vermaelen did to him in the 6-2 rout.
I haven’t even spoken about Daniel Agger.
He Wants to Join Arsenal
This is the best thing you need to know about Jan Ventonghen. He wants to join Arsenal Football Club.
Many skeptics believe that he may not want to play “second fiddle” to Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker but Arsenal needs a player like Ventonghen to bring out the best in these incumbent defenders.
Besides, Ventonghen is a better full back than Kieran Gibbs and Andre Santos. He’ll be a valuable asset to the club and he’s one for the future because he’s only 24.
Arsene Wenger knows best.
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